View Full Version : Good Budo Is Simple. That Doesn't Mean It's Easy

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Peter Boylan
08-12-2015, 09:25 PM
Good budo isn't flashy or flowery. It's simple and uncomplicated. In fact, a quick litmus test for budo is that if it looks complicated and flashy, it's probably not very good. I write about the simple qualities of good budo in this blog post.

Do you think budo should be simple?

08-14-2015, 03:01 PM
I absolutely agree that our best structure for power and movement is not flamboyant. Hollywood makes us jaded.

If a young man is training in Karate, he'll likely work on the spectacular movement that appears once like the jumping kick in Kanku Dai, instead of the Chudan Tsuki that is everywhere. In Aikido, high falls are supplanting what is often more sensible ukemi. I watch students practicing Aiki-Jo, and Choku Tsuki is practiced much less than Hasso Gaeshi. Of course, Hasso Gaeshi appears more often on the list of 20 movements.

The problem I have with talking about simple is that we shouldn't think simply. Simple is to take the history of the art and the instruction at face value and assume there is no deeper level of understanding, that the teacher is always right. Shotokan karate now has back fist and high side kick combinations where the movement at one point was a kick to the knee and a strike to the face - simple is to not question the movement or the application which is a big deal for solo kata. It is simple to try to find a one-size-fits all method of teaching, or to complain that variations are complications. applying simple ideas widely can mean a very deep level of thought and understanding and it will feel complicated enough to hurt my mind. Instruction sometimes needs context and hard if simple work by the student.

Today's simple is often yesterday's complex. I can tie my shoes now, now show tying is simple; it used to bake my noodle to even try. How complicated is it to start to feel Koshi, which has to become second nature and unconscious?

I do think Occham was framed - he wrote that in the absence of knowledge, faced with two hypothesis, go with the one that was most evidence based. Simple can be elegant, but for the years I worked hematology simple is not always the answer. I can only hope today's too complicated to understand will become tomorrow's simple.